Half the fun of having a website is hacking around with it - there are hundreds of static site generators, and popular ones have whole communities creating themes, plugins, and more.
I’ve played with more than a few of these tools, and when making this site decided to keep it simple - use Org-mode, since it’s built in to Emacs and exports to HTML. Just ~100 lines of Elisp was enough to get going, and a dozen or so lines of CSS made it look OK.
It worked well enough for writing and publishing posts - but bit by bit, I wanted more. I still wanted a static site, with content generated from simple markup and built and published via CI/CD. But I also wanted IndieWeb goodies - webmentions and pingbacks, comments, and interoperability with popular content silos (“social media” and even the Fediverse).
Of course, I could do all this with Emacs - you can do anything with Emacs! But after a few dozen more lines of Elisp I realized I wasn’t exactly keeping it simple anymore, and decided to look for other ways.
Enter Nikola - it’s written in Python, so (though I like the it’s-just-a-binary approach of Hugo) I’m comfortable navigating the ecosystem. It does all the h-entry stuff for IndieWeb, plus good old RSS. It’s fast enough, has reasonable interface and quality-of-life features (auto-rebuild), and nice themes and plugins - it can even compile Org-mode.
Basically, Nikola included the batteries I was looking for, and didn’t impose much besides. I was able to drop all my prior content right in, add new features like comments, and I look forward to publishing Jupyter Notebook posts alongside boring old Markdown and Org-mode.
Nikola is, of course, no cure-all - it simply fit my needs. But the reason behind my needs is more broadly applicable - technology has made us all publishers, yet publicization remains centralized. POSSE - Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere - is a compelling balance of valuable ideals with inevitable pragmatism.
You’re reading this - thank you. You arrived here from any of myriad ways, from social feeds to web search to direct link sharing. However you got here, I appreciate you sharing precious moments of your consciousness with this lossy serialization of mine. Heck, I’m not even trying to monetize you!
I encourage you, in your consideration of my deeds, to ponder your own. How do you share your thoughts with others, and are you in control of your own content? It’s all well and good to syndicate via whatever available channels, but you can still use tools that give you flexibility and enable dialogue regardless of which technological warlord you align with.
There’s many ways to achieve digital independence, and not all require hacking out code as a hobby - WordPress is arguably the most approachable, and widely used, technology for releasing open content. However you choose to create, I hope you embrace openness and find signal in yourself and others.
Stay tuned for more posts - I have a bit of a backlog, since I was preoccupied with tuning this little blog overhaul. And, though I’m no influencer, remember that you can now comment below as well as send mentions via social media (e.g. Twitter). Thanks!